(Photo: Koen Suyk)

At just 21 years old, midfielder Jane Claxton is the baby of the Hockeyroos at the World Cup in The Hague. Father Bob Claxton, by contrast is a Grand Master, and currently coaching the Australian men’s 65+ team at their own World Cup not far down the road.  As Jane prepares for her semi-final match against USA on Thursday, Bob’s team are getting ready to take on England. Bob, now 68, has a hockey career stretching back almost 60 years. His brother also plays hockey, as does son Matthew. Daughter Jane completes the family line-up.

Good athletes

“Actually I tried heaps of different sports, lots of individual ones, but they are not as much fun. You get really nervous because it is all about you,” Jane says. “I played netball but I think I was too aggressive for it.” Bob says Jane would have been good at whatever sport she chose to do. “She’s always been a good athlete. She’s good at reading the game,” he says. “And if she wanted to stay playing netball, she’d have had to grow a few inches.”

Debriefing
Bob has coached both Jane and her brother in the past and still has something to say about her performance. “Yes, I get my own debriefing,” laughs Jane. “Sometimes you don’t want to hear it. No-one wants to hear the negatives. But on the other hand it is good to be able to talk to your parents about hockey.” Mum Anne-Marie laughs at the other side of the table. “Hockey dominates at the dinner table,” she says. “We have so many hockey players from all over the world come to stay and we often end up in a two or three hour discussion over dinner.” Bob is very happy with the Hockeyroos’ performance so far at this World Cup. “I think the game against the Netherlands was the best I’ve seen them play,” he says. “The current squad has taken women’s hockey in Australia to a new level.”

Grand Masters
Bob, who still plays in a Masters’ team back home, is currently coaching the Australian 65+ team at the ongoing Grand Masters World Cup at Klein Zwitserland in The Hague. Jane is not quite so enthusiastic about supporting her dad. “I’ve watched a few games but it is frustrating to watch. It’s like playing in slow motion.” She does offer her own tips on occasion. “My great words of wisdom are never really accepted,” she laughs.

Proud

“We are very proud of her… of her dedication and the way she keeps studying even when she is away,” Bob says of his daughter, who has over 40 caps for Australia and is studying occupational therapy at university in Perth at the same time. “My dad is a pretty big achiever,” says Jane. “I a lot of my game style and knowledge comes from him. I do not think I would be as smart a player if I did not have a father who knows so much about hockey.”